SCI publisher Jim Wexell with his initial draft notes regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers

You can date prospects such as Jarran Reed and Jalen Mills at the Senior Bowl, just don't fall in love.

From the notebook of a sportswriter who feels that he's w-a-a-a-a-y behind in the draftnick draft day derby that seems to start earlier each season:

* It begins on opening day, yes, but I still have opening-day video hidden somewhere in my TV DVR archives.

* Yeah, see, Georgia-South Carolina doesn't interest anyone, does it?

* Is it the lack of picks by the Steelers? Is it the late draft position? Maybe it was the exciting season that's left me a bit unmotivated. My apologies.

* I do like Bill Polian's mantra. He said a couple of times during Senior Bowl week that when he went back to meet with his scouts upon returning from Mobile he would always tell them, and I'm paraphrasing, "You can date but you can't fall in love. I don't want to hear about first-rounders." Meaning, they all had a lot more work to do.

* So I won't say that I've fallen in love with Jarran Reed or Jalen Mills, only that I've begun to date them.

* Reed is a 6-4, 313-pounder from Alabama who looks like he could play anywhere on the defensive line, from nose tackle to end.

* And I mean end in a 4-3.

* I don't even know what the Steelers run anymore or what they want to run, and I'm not really sure they do, either. I do know Keith Butler would like to bring James Harrison back for use in a special package, as opposed to continuing the rotation with which they used him with Jarvis Jones. So that would seem to leave the odds of them transforming into an old-school, four-man front pretty long.

* Yet, they said all season long they would like to get "home" without blitzing so much, that they would like to get there with four.

* But they're not going to do so with such a small front and linebackers/defensive ends who haven't shown they can get there at all.

* Yes, their ends give them flexibility with their ability to drop. They're proud of that twist to the "Tampa 2" which they're re-inventing. But Bud Dupree and Jones haven't shown they can get to quarterbacks without the help of a massive man who occupies blockers and keeps the opposing coordinator up at nights.

* Not to lessen my appreciation and/or respect for Cam Heyward or Stephon Tuitt. They're both Pro Bowl D-linemen. I just think one more, and a bigger one at that, would put those two over the top.

* I'm not talking about nose tackles, either. I would much rather have a big man with the mobility of Reed, and he's not the only one of his kind in a draft crop full of similar big men.

* OK, so where would Reed fit? As a mere rotational player? Well, initially. After that, it's up to Butler and Mike Tomlin. Hey, I'm just leading them to the talent.

* Can you name the cornerbacks for the '85 Bears? I can, because I was a Bears fan growing up. But cornerback was their weakness and front seven was their strength. Yet, in April of 1985 they drafted their biggest man -- William Perry -- because Mike Ditka had no mercy for quarterbacks.

* And it worked.

* I just think that throwing another beast of an ingredient into the stew would make the stew so much more robust.

* This defensive tackle crop is deep, so even if they pass in the first round they probably are confident they can find another guy like Tuitt in the second round.

* It's actually similar to the outstanding WR crop of two years ago. Teams were so full of stew by the fourth round that there was a Randy Moss-type still available in Martavis Bryant. I think it might be THAT kind of DT crop this year.

* Reed is so big and strong, and his feet are so quick, and he seems to have such enthusiasm for the game. He really looks like another monster of the midway.

* I would enjoy so much watching Tuitt and Heyward taunt Reed at practices about chasing the ball downfield and into becoming a great player. It's a circle of success waiting to happen with those two vets.

* The DT from Florida, Jonathan Bullard, strikes me as the same kind of big, strong, quick and enthusiastic player as Reed.

* The number one pick in this draft -- and I'm saying this coming out of Senior Bowl week -- looks like Noah Spence. But I'm pretty sure the Steelers would pass on him at 25. I just can't see Art Rooney handing him a jersey at a press conference and then watching Spence explain to a battery of TV cameras why he was kicked out of school for an alleged addiction to ecstasy.

* I understand that you can't play ball at the level he's playing if you're still addicted to drugs. I have no doubt Spence is clean and on his way to bigger and better things. It's just the Steelers' way, particularly with first-round picks.

* Is Tomlin looking for cover-2 corners these days? Or still cover-3? The bigger type who act as a third safety? Or is he looking for a playmaking strong safety in the Carnell Lake/Troy Polamalu mold? It's almost as confusing as deciphering their front-seven needs, but I'll just assume they're looking for a defensive back who can do any or all of the above.

* And that brings me back to Mills. He's the LSU free safety who covered slot receivers on 73 percent of his snaps last season (according to Pro Football Focus) and played cornerback last week in Mobile.

* He looked like the best corner in the game Saturday. I don't know what he's going to run, and I'm guessing it's 4.45 or slower, and that would help him get to 25.

* For my money he's a much more interesting pro prospect than the guys listed at the top of the CB boards by most draftnicks: Mackensie Alexander and Vernon Hargreaves.

* Is Alexander even 5-10? I have my doubts. If he's barely 5-10, he's a late first-rounder at best. And Hargreaves reminds me of Trae Waynes, but maybe not as fast. Neither Hargreaves nor Waynes are very physical, but obviously the league thought much more of Waynes last year than I did.

* But I think Mills, in limited time, appears to be a better corner than either Alexander or Hargreaves, and if Mills fails in any way as a corner he can move back to safety.

* Mills was a corner at LSU in his early years. Then he allegedly punched a woman in the face. Then he was moved to safety. That's his timeline.

* Yeah, there's your fly in that ointment. But he was only 20 when he was arrested, and witnesses have disputed it, and he wasn't suspended for any games.

* Just don't hit women. C'mon, man.

* I'm all about moving past youthful mistakes, so I'm looking forward to talking to Mills at the Combine to get my own read on what kind of person he is.

* Because on the field he looks like a potential shutdown corner.

* The Steelers do need a safety, and the chic pick right now is Boise State's Darian Thompson. He looked decent in the game, but it never fails that a guy makes a play early and the analysts overreact to the rest of his game, which was kind of bland for Thompson.

* The strong safety from Southern Utah, Miles Killebrew, intrigued me, particularly when Mike Mayock showed a series of video highlights in which Killebrew rocked player after player. Mayock reveled in the fact "everybody bounces backwards."

* That's when I remembered Lance Zierlein's tweet recently about Killebrew looking to him like a classic Steelers safety.

* So even though I'm not in love -- or will admit to it -- and I had to apologize for being so far behind in my "couch scouting," I'm thinking CB/DL first, DL/CB second, Miles Killebrew third and offensive guard fourth.

* I promise I'll have a more clear vision following the Combine.


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